EPA 2017 in Review: Waste prevention initiatives are gaining traction

Date released: Feb 13 2018, 11:00 AM

2017 Year in Review cover

In its review of 2017 the EPA reports that, in addition to delivering on its core reporting and enforcement roles, several of its waste prevention and resource efficiency activities made significant progress during the year.

Laura Burke, Director General of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said,

“The EPA provides leadership by identifying new and innovative practices that contribute to waste prevention and resource efficiency. Many of these initiatives are promoted to homeowners, businesses and other sectors through the National Waste Prevention Programme. These include the EPA’s Stop Food Waste programme and the Food Waste Charter.”

Minister of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten T.D. and EPA Director General Laura Burke jointly launched Ireland’s Food Waste Charter last March.  As Laura Burke explained,

“The Food Waste Charter is a collective commitment to reduce food waste along the entire supply chain. Minister Naughten has announced in recent weeks that five major Irish retailers have now signed the Food Waste Charter, a development that we very much welcome.  This commits the retailers involved to a common and long-term approach to tackling food waste in the sector.  Working together to reduce food waste demonstrates a willingness to make food waste prevention a priority and build awareness of the issue.”

Laura Burke also highlighted successes in the Farm Hazardous Waste Collection Campaign and the Smart Farming initiatives:

“The fifth annual series of Farm Hazardous Waste collections involved ten one-day nationwide events, held during October & November.  In 2017, more than 2,400 farmers participated, bringing 177 tonnes of hazardous wastes and 86 tonnes of WEEE and waste batteries to the collections for safe disposal.  The scheme won the Excellence Through Collaboration category in November at the annual Civil Service Excellence and Innovation awards. In addition, the Smart Farming initiative – a strategic partnership between EPA, IFA and farmers - resulted in improved environmental protection practices on 1,000 farms by end 2017.”

In 2017, the EPA launched a new competition for secondary school students. Laura Burke explained:

“The Story of Your Stuff competition challenged entrants to illustrate the lifecycle of an everyday object - where it came from, how it’s used and where it will end up. Students used irelandsenvironment.ie for research.  Their entries demonstrated a high level of skill, knowledge and creativity. The winning video, by two Co Sligo students, told the story of a pencil, from manufacture to use and disposal. Natural resources are finite and their winning entry showed that we need to be thoughtful in relation to everything we consume.  The 2018 competition has now been launched.”

Much of the work the EPA does is aimed at engaging the public in protecting and improving the environment. Laura Burke also spoke about providing information to enable people to keep up-to-date with trends and developments in environmental matters. She said,

“During 2017 we launched a mobile enabled bathing water website called Beaches.ie (www.beaches.ie).  And for a more specialist user of EPA data, we also developed a new National Waste Statistics web resource in 2017.  The resource provides users with accessible content and easy to use interactive graphs and charts. We will regularly update the resource and provide the latest information, graphics and commentary on priority wastes, waste infrastructure and trends.”

Environmental Protection Agency: 2017 in Review is available on the EPA website.

Notes to Editor

1. Stop Food Waste
Stop Food Waste engages with communities and other relevant stakeholders to promote food waste prevention through initiatives such as the Stop Food Waste Challenge.  See the website.

2. Food Waste Charter
Food waste occurs at every stage of the food chain, from production and processing, to distribution, retail and in our homes. The EPA estimates that this generates over one million tonnes of food waste in Ireland each year. 
The recent announcement regarding the Food Waste Charter is available online.

3. Farm Hazardous Waste Collection Campaign
The Farm Hazardous Waste collection scheme was established to provide farmers with an accessible location in which they can safely dispose of hazardous waste. It has been operating on a pilot basis since 2013.  It is led by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in collaboration with Teagasc, the Department of Communications Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE), the Department of Agriculture Food and Marine (DAFM) and local authorities.
Since 2013, 9,000 farmers safely disposed of nearly 1,000 tonnes of hazardous wastes including old legacy chemicals such as DDT, cyanide, strychnine and other nasty Persistent Organic Chemicals (POPs). More information is available online.

4. The Story of Your Stuff
This project encourages students to get thinking creatively about a meaningful subject – the lifecycle of everyday products and how this impacts upon the environment. The 2018 closing date is March 23.
Further information about the competition, including the launch video for the 2018 competition, is available on the website.

The winning video in The Story of Your Stuff 2017 competition is available on the EPAIreland YouTube channel.

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